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Christmas Eve

December 24, 2005

Blessed Christmas Eve!

Readings (Mass in the morning):
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29 “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord”
+ Luke 1:67-79

David had just brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem (after a previous misguided attempt had ended in disaster, see II Samuel 6). He had finally conquered enough that there was peace in the land, enabling him to build a palace for himself, but the ark of God, the dwelling of the Most High, was still housed in a tent. That didn’t seem right to him, so he had a chat with Nathan, the prophet, about it. Nathan initially gave the go-ahead for David to begin building, but that night God intervened. David wanted to build a house for God, but instead, God was in the process of building a house for David. And by “house”, he didn’t mean a structure of wood and stone. God had a dynasty in mind, an enduring royal family that would last forever. He would bring them peace, and their enemies would no longer afflict them (II Samuel 7:1-16).

Zachariah, once the naming of his son had loosed his tongue, proclaimed the fulfillment of this promise in a psalm that priests, monks & nuns still pray every morning during the Liturgy of the Hours. He’d had nine silent months to reflect on the angel’s words (speaking of his son-to-be), “he himself shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children” (Luke 1:17). As a priest, he not only recognized those words from prophesy, he knew they pointed to the forerunner of the Messiah. And he had just spent three months in the Presence of this Messiah, growing in Mary’s womb as Mary helped his wife, Elizabeth, around the house. We don’t know if God had revealed Jesus’ Presence to Zachariah directly, but Elizabeth knew (Luke 1:43), and we know she & Zachariah communicated somehow or Elizabeth wouldn’t have known that her baby’s name should be John (Luke 1:60). Now that Zachariah could speak again, he had a lot to say about what God was doing!

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
He has come to His people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of His servant David.” (Luke 1:68-69)

We know now that the house of David, that God promised would last forever, is the Kingdom of God; for the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became the Son of David. And another name for the Kingdom of God, for the House of David which is still among us, is the Church. We, through our Baptism, are part of that legacy, part of that royal House. We are still awaiting the final fulfillment of the promise, for the rest from our enemies which we will experience when Jesus comes again to take us Home. In the meantime, the Dawn from on High has broken upon us, has come to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:78, 79). He is the Word who is a lamp for our feet, and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Come, let us follow Him; first stop, a barn in Bethlehem…

May our voices, like Zachariah’s, break forth in a song of praise as the Morning Star rises in our hearts.

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